F-35A pilots and maintainers conduct combat exercise

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HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — The F-35A and those who fly and maintain it were tested recently with an exercise designed to simulate environments as close to combat as possible.

This is the first time the 388th Fighter Wing’s combined 4th Fighter Squadron and 4th Aircraft Maintenance Unit have participated in this type of exercise with the F-35A.

Participants work in contested environments where various communications are denied, or targets are concealed and camouflaged while generating valuable lessons to improve operations.

“We are using various forms of secure communications that we don’t always train with, and we execute dynamic targeting that forces pilots and intelligence troops to make real-time, adapted decisions to accomplish the mission,” said Lt. Col. Yosef “Hitman” Morris, 4th FS Commander.

“These exercises help us identify our strengths and allows us to make improvements to become even better,” said Capt. Cheyenne Clement, 4th AMU Office in Charge. “Normal, home-station flying doesn’t really stress the system because we don’t test all of the muscle groups we’d normally test in a deployed environment. Exercises like this help us remain combat ready while also testing and stressing the F-35 program.”

The first operational F-35As arrived at Hill AFB in October 2015. Hill will be home to three operational squadrons by the end of 2019. The active duty 388th and Reserve 419th FWs fly and maintain the aircraft in a Total Force partnership.